Congressman Lynch’s Lack of Enthusiasm in Holding the FBI Accountable

FBI Agent John Connolly is well on the way to spending the rest of his life in jail.   Connolly as we all know was the handler of Whitey Bulger and Stevie Flemmi.  When this became known to the public, a general uproar occurred over the idea that these two top gangsters could be FBI informants.  Everyone in the FBI from the top to the bottom,  from the Director to the file clerks in the Boston office, knew Whitey was an informant.  When the public demanded an answer for what appeared to be a horrendous decision of protecting two men engaged in many murders and unable to deny that it happened, the FBI went into overdrive to protect itself.  It threw Connolly to the  angry mob, in effect saying Connolly had become a rouge agent.  The FBI vowed that this would never happen again.  The FBI hoped that Connolly would be forgotten and that the public would forget it had made this huge error and it could return to business as usual, using top criminals as informants and protecting them.

Let’s talk about a Mark Rossetti.  If you want you can find an article in the Boston Globe on August 31, 1983 telling of Mark Rossetti being sentenced to 10 years for being in a masked armed robbery.  In 2001 he was sentenced to a little over 4 years for being a felon in possession of a weapon. Or a December 5, 2003 article you can read about an affidavit filed in federal court that Mark Rossetti was a capo in the Boston Mafia.  Or May 21 and 22, 2010 articles telling how he was charged with trafficking in heroin. In October of that year, Kevin Cullen of the Globe quoted Lt. Steve Johnson of the state police, who was instrumental in bringing down Whitey, as saying, “It’s shocking.  Shocking that a person of Rossetti’s position in the LCN would be hands-on in the heroin business.  But this is where these guys are now.”  Johnson was saying the Mafia had become a shell of itself when the top guys were handling the drugs themselves.

Rossetti’s a Mafia capo in an outfit that pretty much has been destroyed.  He’s left to dealing heroin.  Then in August 13, 2011, Shelley Murphy of the Globe reports that the state police picked up Rossetti on a wiretap and learned that he was an FBI informant.  Look at Rossetti’s background I just set out and tell me how the FBI could have gone back to business as usual using another Whitey Bulger-type as an informant.

The Boston Globe to its credit asked what was going on.  The FBI and the state police hierarchy, ever the lackey to the FBI, responded,  according to Shelley Murphy’s article, “Specifically, the FBI employees responsible for handling this matter did not engage in any inappropriate activities and acted in accordance with the Department of Justice and FBI rules.  They demonstrated a high level of integrity and professionalism.”

Yogi would say “deja vu again.”  That’s what they said about the agents Morris and Connolly who handled Whitey.   Former colonel Tom Foley (the author) who we know was responsible for destroying Whitey and Stevie said, “After everything that we’ve been through with the Bulger case, nothing has been learned, nothing has changed.”

On August 21, 2011, Kevin Cullen rightly asks where is the outrage of the FBI again using top gangsters for informants.  Cullen indicated Rossetti has been an FBI informant for upwards of twenty years.  To be a Mafia capo it is said you have to be a murderer.  Rossetti is suspected of murdering 6 people and the FBI is protecting him. I urge you to read that column and a subsequent one on October 18, “Pants on Fire”.  My problem with the latter column is Cullen gives a pass to the handler of Rossetti.  I wouldn’t.

Then on August 17, 2011, the Globe, . . . . (let me digress a second.  Believe me when I say this, if  it wasn’t for the media we’d be walking in the dark.  My problem with the Globe is that it doesn’t devote more resources to these things.  During my days the Globe, the Herald and the Quincy Patriot Ledger had reporters in Norfolk Superior Court every day   Now most things seem to go uncovered.)   . . . inquired of Congressman Lynch who was on the Congressional Committee that grilled Billy Bulger.  The Globe asked Lynch what was he doing about the Rossetti outrage. Lynch said he had demanded a briefing from the FBI on the matter which was being scheduled.  The FBI and the US Attorney would not comment.

On August 24, 2011 Milton Valencia of the Globe reported Rossetti was told by the FBI “my job is to keep you anonymous and safe.  You don’t have anything to worry about if things down the road happen, but if that happens, we’ll have to deal with it as it comes, I will have to start working on it.”  This is an FBI agent talking to a vicious criminal suspected of six or more murders.  His job isn’t to stop this man it’s to keep him safe.  Who is the agent working for?

The Globe came back to it again on November 3, 2011 with an editorial saying Congress should oversee the FBI informants.  It tells about the systematic failure of FBI agents to follow the guidelines on handling informants.  It says Congressman Lynch is right to call for congressional oversight over the FBI’s use of informants.

On December 6, 2011 Cullen reported that Congressman Lynch and two other Congressmen met with the FBI.    The FBI said it was conducting an internal inquiry and promised a follow up meeting.  What’s the problem?  Rossetti is a violent criminal, a Mafia capo,  actively engaged in heroin dealing.   Why does the FBI need all this time to conduct this inquiry?

Almost a year after getting involved, again Congresman Lynch was asked about the matter.  In the meantime Rossetti had been tried and convicted of plotting to rob a drug dealer’s home and sentenced to seven to nine years in prison.  (Have you ever wondered why the sentences for career criminals seem to go down over time? Does it make sense?)  Lynch said, “There’s still more work to be done . .   in my estimation, at least what we’ve seen so far, what Rossetti was doing should have triggered a [halt] in his status as a confidential informant.”    He said he met with other congressional leaders and have met privately with FBI officials.  The agency’s internal probe is ongoing.  The agents have yet to talk to certain witnesses and evidence in the state charges that has been sealed so far could aid in the investigation.  Lynch said he has not made a determination as to the appropriateness of the relationship because the FBI review is not finished but early indications are the relationship was questionable.  He went on saying “There’s a whole litany of the guidelines, from A to Z, that we’re looking at.

All that sounds nice Congressman but it sounds like you’re letting the FBI off the hook again.  I know it is tough taking on the finest investigative organization in the world but you don’t seem bothered that a year after the FBI said it began an inquiry it still hasn’t interviewed people.   You in Congress are now looking at a litany of guidelines rather than the simple fact the FBI is still partnering with murderers and protecting these gangsters.

Let me put it straight.  Rossetti was a life long criminal like Whitey — armed robbery, gun possession, heroin dealing, planning home break-ins, suspected of murder —   who was being protected by the FBI.  You have an FBI agent intercepted telling him his job is to keep this vicious criminal safe.  The FBI had been protecting him for a dozen of years, just like Whitey.    There is no difference in the two cases.  Start from there.

Here’s what I want to tell you Congressman Lynch.  I have no idea how many other Bulgers or Rossettis are being protected by the FBI while they kill and commit other vicious crimes.  This was supposed to stop ten years ago but it continues.  I’ll ask you a simple question, do you know how many Bulgers or Rossettis are being protected?  Don’t you think that is important?  Don’t you think someone outside the FBI should have that knowledge?

Stop looking at a litany of guidelines.  Stop waiting for the FBI to investigate itself.   Stop being afraid.  Do something to bring the FBI in line.